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These are the most popular Android apps of all time

AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Some of these made the cut.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Even though it’s tried and failed (a few times) to own Android users’ mobile experience, Facebook is still pretty much the king of Google’s mobile operating system.

In a report released today, app analytics firm AppAnnie compiled lists of the top 10 games and apps of all time on the Google Play Store, ranking them both by the number of times they’ve been downloaded, and the amount of revenue they’ve generated. Facebook, AppAnnie found, has four of the top 10 most-downloaded apps of all time on Android.

Although the number of Android users is steadily growing (so apps that have been available longer have a greater chance of being downloaded more often), it’s interesting to note that the newest app in any of these charts was released over two years ago, in March 2014.

(It’s worth noting that AppAnnie left Google’s top apps out of its research—such as Google search, Maps, Music, and Gmail—as these come preinstalled on the vast majority of Android phones sold each year, and would’ve skewed the results.)

Here are the lists:

Most-downloaded apps of all time

AppFirst releasedCompanyCountry
Facebook MessengerNov-11FacebookUSA
Clean MasterSep-12Cheetah MobileChina
Flashlight by SurpaxJan-12SurpaxUSA

Facebook absolutely dominated this chart, grabbing the top four spots, and it seems that just about everyone is using their Android devices, seeing as seven of the most-downloaded apps provide some sort of messaging service—eight, if you include Instagram’s ancillary direct-messaging function. It’s also worth noting that it seems many people are trying to add on one key feature missing on a lot of Android phones—a flashlight.

Top apps of all time by revenue

AppFirst releasedCompanyCountry
LINE MangaApr-13LINEJapan
Pandora RadioJan-12PandoraUSA
KakaoTalkJan-12Daum KakaoSouth Korea
Dragon Quest X Adventurer’s Convenient Outing ToolJun-13Square EnixJapan

Facebook might have the most downloads of any company on the Google Play Store, but it’s Japanese messaging company LINE that has the top-grossing apps. The revenue list includes six Japanese companies, and is full of gaming apps that rely on the “freemium” model—where the game itself is free to download, but add-ons and methods to advance in the game cost money. Rounding out the list are two dating apps, suggesting some Android owners are totally willing to pay to find love, while on the go.

Most-downloaded games of all time

AppFirst releasedCompanyCountry
Subway SurfersSep-12KilooDenmark
Candy Crush SagaNov-12Activision BlizzardUnited States
Temple Run 2Jan-13Imangi, iDream SkyUSA, China
Hill Climb RacingSep-12FingersoftFinland
My Talking TomNov-13Outfit7Cyprus
Despicable MeJun-13GameloftFrance
Angry BirdsDec-11RovioFinland
Fruit NinjaFeb-11HalfbrickAustralia
Clash of ClansSep-13SupercellFinland

You’ve undoubtedly heard of some of these, and probably have a few on your phone. Unlike the app charts, dominated by the US and Japan, the most popular games almost all come from Europe. Scandinavia has fared particularly well, with Finland producing three of the most downloaded games of all time, and Denmark produced Subway Surfers, a mass-transit-inspired reaction game, released right after the original version of Temple Run.

Top games of all time by revenue

AppFirst releasedCompanyCountry
Puzzle & DragonsSep-12GungHo OnlineJapan
Clash of ClansSep-13SupercellFinland
Monster StrikeDec-13MixiJapan
Candy Crush SagaNov-12Activision BlizzardUSA
Game of War – Fire AgeMar-14Machine ZoneUSA
Everybody’s MarbleJun-13Netmarble, LINESouth Korea, Japan
Disney Tsum TsumJan-14LINEJapan
Summoners WarApr-14GAMEVILSouth Korea
Hay DayNov-13SupercellFinland
The World of Mystic WizMar-13COLOPL, SonyJapan

That same freemium model that popped up in the app revenue chart is all over the top-grossing games chart. Most of these games are simple to play, addictive, and once the game makers have players hooked, they offer power-ups, ways to progress through the game more quickly, and rewards—for a small fee—to entice players to improve their experience. Add those small fees up, and you have a business model.

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